Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thou Shalt Be Comfortable

Beautiful, but a person with a painful knee will have trouble with those stairs.

      Stand up, sit down. Repeat ad infinitum.
     For a person who has arthritis or other chronic pain, it can be hard to attend religious services with all those ups and downs.
     The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, starts on Thursday.   Among my preparations are stirring some fragrant chicken matzo ball soup and baking sweet smelling honey cake.
     Also, I will scout my  closet to find a dress that will look good - OK, at least not hideous - with flat shoes. And I will figure out how to better deal with the service itself, instead of doing my usual "tough it out" approach.
     After all, it's not like I use a wheelchair or have any other obvious physical limitation.  By not getting up and down, I feel I draw attention to myself, and not in a good way.
     It's time to change, to make a choice.
     I can sit in the regular seating and just not get up very much or I can sit at the back of the room, which has folding chairs. Either way, I will be both self-conscious and much more comfortable. Maybe, by my example, other silent sufferers will be encouraged  to pray without pain.
     I am fortunate that my synagogue is designed to accomodate people with mobility problems. There are ramps and elevators, as well as stairs.
     I am not sure that is the case for all congregations. Research has repeatedly shown that people with disabilities attend religious services less than the able bodied. We can make an educated guess as to why.

     Are you comfortable attending services at your church or synagogue?
     If not, what can you do to make your experience less painful?

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